Oct 31, 2017
USDA projects potato harvest down from last year

Initial numbers from the USDA show that yields will be down compared to last year and that the number of acres harvested declined as well.

While the USDA’s official crop production report will not be released until Nov. 9, its vegetable and pulse outlook issued on Oct. 27 show that overall yield may be down between 0 and 3 percent and that prices are likely to do down compared to 2016 as well.

From the USDA:

The 2017 fall-season potato acreage indicates a 2-percent decline in planted and a 1-percent decline in harvested acreage from a year ago. U.S. fall-season potato growers planted 907,800 acres in 2017—the lowest area since 2010. Consecutive declines in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 marketing year potato prices are likely responsible for the area decreases. Three States accounting for almost half of the 2017 crop area led the decline: Idaho, North Dakota, and Wisconsin all had planted area declines of 34, 9, and 7 percent, respectively. Planted area continued its rise for the summer-potato crop. At 66,000 acres, 2017 summer planting was up 6 percent from 2016 levels, while spring plantings also increased 6 percent to 54,000 acres in 2017. The 2017 summer plantings have surpassed the spring area planted for the second consecutive year. At 20.2 million cwt, summer forecast production, as estimated by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), is up over 3 percent from 2016. The combined U.S. planted area for all potatoes in 2017 totaled 1.028 million acres, down from last year’s 1.037 million acres.

Courtesy USDA

Given the increase in acreage this spring and summer and forecast fall acreage expected to decline, combined with yields closely matching last year, the 2017 potato crop is projected to range from 428 to 441 million hundredweight (cwt)—between 0 and 3 percent below last year. The first official USDA estimate of fall potato production will be released in the Nov. 9 crop production report. The fall crop has accounted for about 91 percent of annual potato output during the last 10 years. During the first 11 months of the marketing year (September-July), prices received by potato growers for all potatoes averaged $0.088 per pound, down less than 1 percent from last year.

Courtesy USDA

Despite relatively strong prices early in the year, during the usual peak period for all potato prices, April, May and June, prices were lower than last year’s levels—down over 6 percent, and down over 5 percent from the past 3-year average all-potato price. From September through July, grower prices for fresh-market potatoes averaged $0.094 per pound–6 percent below year-previous levels. Prices were lower at the retail level for chip potatoes during the first 11 months of the marketing year (September-July), and averaged 2 percent below a year earlier while retail prices for fresh potatoes averaged 7 percent higher.

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